A Great Heart is Reflected On the Head


CULLMAN – On Thursday the principal, faculty and students of East Elementary witnessed heroic acts of courage and love when 12 boys and one custodian shaved their heads to show their support for classmate Hannah Dawson and her younger brother Kaeden. Ten-year-old Kaeden is in the fifth grade at East Elementary and is courageously fighting a battle against Acute Myeloid Leukemia, AML; he has been fighting hard since June 2014, when he was first diagnosed with the disease.

Eleven-year-old Hannah chose to shave her head before her brother’s most recent trip to Children’s Hospital. She is determined to stand by Kaeden and help keep him motivated in his fight. While Kaeden and Dad are at Children’s, Hannah remains at home going to school with the support of a family friend.

Timing is everything, and the folks at East Elementary planned the day just right. At almost the same exact time the boys, Caden Barnett, Aiden Garver, Carson Butts, Henry Cook, Walker Huddleston, Brody Adams, Jaylen Hughey, Drue Harris, Roman Richardville, Tyde Tapscott, James Clark Parrish and Nic Glass, shaved their heads; Kaeden was undergoing a painful bone marrow transplant, and seemingly endless rounds of chemotherapy. The kids just want Kaeden to know and understand that they are rallying behind him 100 percent. The hope is that when Kaeden wakes up and sees all the baldheads, his spirits will be lifted and he will know he’s not alone in his fight.

“This is the kind of thing that makes life worth living,” said Principal David Wiggins. “To know that one of our students is battling an aggressive form of Leukemia and going through the most difficult day of his life today, that these kids, who are not even in his grade level, but in his sister’s class (we’re all family at East),” he smiled real big, “these boys chose to take this on themselves. I think it speaks highly of their character and their hearts. I’m just so proud of them.”

The boys, obviously a little nervous as the clippers began dropping large clumps of hair onto their shoulders and into the floor, were brave souls. Their eyes grew large as they looked at their newly naked heads in the small hand held mirrors they were given once finished.

“At first we were a little bit nervous,” said newly shaven Caden Barnett. “But after a while we were thinking about who it was for, it was for Kaeden. And once we thought about that, we lost our nervousness. Then after a while it was actually fun watching everyone else get their hair done.”

“I thought it wasn’t going to be that bad,” said Drue Harris who had just had his thick, shoulder length hair shaved off. “But when I got my head shaved, it felt really weird. I was nervous but I’m glad I did it. When I first asked my mom if I could do this, all she could do was cry,” he smiled sheepishly.

The day was a success and lots of kids became heroes. Their brave act of kindness touched the hearts of everyone in the packed gym. As a matter of fact, custodian Stanley Harper was moved to have his head shaved as well! The whole school cheered and giggled as they watched, most raising their hands and hollering, “I want to shave MY head too!”

Cullman County is home to some really magnificent people. These young kids and their selfless acts of kindness today are proof of this. I was honored to be a part of East Elementary’s special day and I completely admire Principal Wiggins and the wonderful work he and all teachers and students do every day to help make this world a better place.